Concentrate a bunch of geeks in the Boston Area (like, at MIT), and eventually one of them will get a driver’s license and discover how bad the traffic is. And invent something…
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researchers are testing a Linux-based automotive telematics system intended to reduce traffic congestion. CarTel is a distributed, GPS-enabled mobile sensor network that uses WiFi “opportunistically” to exploit brief windows of coverage to update a central traffic analysis program.
Meanwhile, in California, where people just have a different view of the world, a similar result is being sought using cell phones:
The convergence of communication and multi-media platforms has enabled a key capability: mobility tracking via GPS. Business plans of most major cellular phone manufacturers such as Nokia include embedding GPS in all manufactured cell phones within less than 18 months. Thus, a high penetration rate of GPS-equipped travelers on freeways is expected in the near future. This has major implications for the traffic engineering community, which currently monitors traffic using mostly fixed sensors such as cameras and loop detectors, or location specific sensors such as FasTrak or EZ-pass transponders.
Soon, using universally available equipped cell phones, a new category of location-based services will become possible: multi-modal travel time estimation for commuters using bikes, busses, cars, or trains; itinerary advisories for navigation; geolocalization and context aware applications for social networks; cell phone based monitoring applications for epidemiology in developing countries.